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Summary:

Random House UK announced that E.L. James’ erotic novel “50 Shades of Grey,” which started out as self-published Twilight fan fiction, is now the bestselling book of all time in the country — apparently beating out any single Harry Potter title.

50 Shades Of Grey
photo: 50 Shades of Grey

E.L. James’ erotic novel 50 Shades of Grey, the first in a trilogy, is now the United Kingdom’s bestselling book ever, according to its publisher Random House UK. The company announced that it has sold 5.3 million copies sold in print and digital formats. The other two books in the trilogy, 50 Shades Darker and 50 Shades Freed, have sold 3.6 million and 3.2 million copies, respectively.

As of July, the 50 Shades trilogy had sold 20 million copies in the United States, with sales roughly split between print and digital formats.

The Bookseller says that 50 Shades of Grey has sold 3.8 million copies in print according to Nielsen BookScan, which would suggest 1.5 million ebooks sold. (An earlier version of this article suggested that those were the actual sales figures, but Random House UK would not confirm them.) That actually means it’s sold fewer print copies than J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which sold 4 million copies in print. The Harry Potter ebooks were not available until this year, and Rowling is selling them separately through her own website, Pottermore.com — so we don’t yet have a comparable figure for how many  copies a single Harry Potter title has sold in both print and digital formats. (I’ve asked Pottermore if they can share any information.)

E.L. James published the 50 Shades trilogy with a small Australian publisher before the rights were snapped up by Random House on both sides of the Atlantic in April. The books started out as Twilight fan fiction posted in full on FF.net. The three ebooks had sold over 250,000 copies together and hit the top spots on the New York Times ebook fiction bestseller list before Random House bought the rights. Random House UK is not including those 250,000 copies in its overall sales figure. It’s unclear if Random House UK is including those earlier ebook sales in its figure, and I’ve asked for clarification.

Separately, Amazon announced this week that E.L. James is “the #1 bestselling author of all time at Amazon.co.uk, eclipsing J.K. Rowling’s total sales.” Amazon said James has sold over two million ebooks at Amazon UK since April.

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  1. Awesome for E.L. James.. God is shining on her!

  2. haven’t read the book yet

  3. Harry Potter has sold 500 million copies worldwide. Fifty Shades series has sold 40 million. Harry Potter has sold soo much more.

  4. I am in the middle of reading the first one and had to laugh.
    I had assumed that “Grey” referred to middle aged and older
    and was looking forward to being enlightened about sex in
    middle age. However, I am enjoying the flow of Ana’s thoughts
    and her psycho battle with Grey—I wistfully recollect those days
    back in my 20’s when sex was hot. It’s a fun ride now to reflect.

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